Better get used to seeing Seattle’s defense dominate

Posted Monday, Feb. 03, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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lebreton Get used to the boom.

They call themselves the Legion of Boom. And the Seattle Seahawks are just getting started.

As a harbinger of things to come for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, even the pregame coin toss was intercepted.

Soon thereafter, the first snap of Super Bowl XLVIII whizzed past quarterback Manning’s right ear.

Despite months of fretting about the weather, there was no snow or ice at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. But the young Seahawks and their Legion of Boom defense buried the Broncos under a night-long avalanche anyway.

The only argument is whether Seattle’s 43-8 victory will be deemed the most ridiculously one-sided Super Bowl ever. Historians may rightly argue that the San Francisco 49ers’ 55-10 rout of — what a cruel coincidence — the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV was more lopsided.

But this one came close, largely because of the savage domination by the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense.

People thought it would be close. We also once thought the earth was flat and that the first outdoor Super Bowl in a northern clime would be an invitation to frostbite.

The Jersey weather, however, turned out to be downright balmy — 49 degrees at kickoff.

It was the Seahawks who made a joke of the day’s other forecast.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Watching the film, we saw that they hadn’t played a defense like ours, a defense that flies around like we do and that hits like we do.”

No one doubted that Seattle had the nastiest, stingiest and trash-talkingest defense in the NFL. Cornerback Richard Sherman’s postgame outburst two weeks ago provided evidence of that.

But Sunday was like men against mice. Turtles versus hares. The Seahawks’ quickness and ferocity on defense provided an early shock from which Denver never seemed to recover.

Seeking his second Super Bowl victory, veteran Manning was intercepted twice and fumbled once in addition to the botched opening snap that resulted in a Seattle safety.

In hindsight, maybe we should have seen this coming. The great Joe Namath, overdressed in a kiss-me-Suzy, Broadway Joe fur jacket, was given the honor of making the pregame coin toss. But he hastily tossed it before the Seahawks had called tails, prompting referee Terry McAulay to snatch the coin in midair.

History unfortunately has told us that even on pro football’s biggest stage, a team can lay an embarrassing egg. The Broncos, traumatized by the instant safety, fell behind 15-0 before registering their initial first down.

By then, more than four minutes into the second quarter, the Seahawks had put their stamp on the night. The Legion of Boom, the nickname for their defense, had boomed.

“The Legion of Boom, baby,” Sherman said after the game. “I hope we etched our names in the history books.”

Etched? It was more like a tattoo.

Manning, particularly, is going to have a hard time erasing this performance. Admittedly, his offensive line was overwhelmed. His receivers seemed to collect only bone-rattling hits, not yards, after the catch.

But late in the first quarter, when the score was still close, Manning overthrew Julius Thomas, and Seattle safety Kam Chancellor intercepted. The Seahawks scored in seven plays.

Late in the next quarter came another Manning miscue. With Seattle pass rusher Cliff Avril closing on him, Manning’s pass floated into the arms of linebacker Malcolm Smith, who returned the interception 69 yards for a touchdown.

Just like that, it was 22-0. It was getting embarrassing.

“It’s not embarrassing,” Manning protested later. “I would never use that word. The word embarrassing is kind of an insult to me.”

Seeing one of pro football’s greatest quarterbacks get flogged in public, however, was unsettling if not the E-word.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll was correct when he said, “It was a fantastic night on defense.”

There is reason to believe, too, that the Seahawks are just getting started. They are the youngest NFL champions by average age since the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is only 25 years old. Smith, voted the game’s MVP, is 24, as is Texas-ex safety Earl Thomas. Sherman and Chancellor, who together put the biggest boom in the Legion of Boom, are both 25.

Better get used to them.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gillebreton

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